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A Very Jewish St. Patrick’s Day

And why not?

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Yup, Daniel Day-Lewis (Paris, last month) is part Jewish.(Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, to all our Irish friends! There have been not a few prominent figures who fell in the sweet middle spot of the Venn diagram between Irish people and—to use the common euphemism—readers of Tablet Magazine. And even more have wished they fell there! (See, for example, Abie’s Irish Rose, the popular 1920s play about Abie Levy and his wife, Rosemary Levy, née Murphy.) I’m not making this up—even if the most famous Irish Jew was made up (that would be Leopold Bloom, the star of James Joyce’s Ulysses, whom we celebrate on a different day).

I asked Jonathan Wilson, author of a great New York Times Magazine article on Ireland’s Jewish community, to suggest some favorite, real-life Irish Jews. He offered a few; intern Jenny Merkin came through with a few more.

• Robert Briscoe, Dublin’s first Jewish mayor (also a member of the Irish Republican Army);
• His son, Ben, another Dublin mayor;
• Chaim Herzog, the Belfast-born president of Israel from 1983 to 1993;
• Speaking of Herzog, Wilson said, “my Auntie Pearl who once dated him!”;
• Yitzah HaLevi Herzog, Israel’s first chief rabbi (and, naturally, Chaim’s father), had been Ireland’s chief rabbi;
• Daniel Day-Lewis (mother);
• Sen. John Kerry—remember, he learned during his presidential campaign that his grandfather was a Czech Jew;
• Liam Neeson: not actually a Jew. But he played Oskar Schindler … who was not actually a Jew. So an honorary Jew, twice removed.

So, have a happy St. Patrick’s Day. We’d say several cliché things now, and wish you several more, but instead we merely suggest you click on and print out this St. Patrick’s Day Bingo card and see how well you do.

The Fading World of Leopold Bloom [New York Times Magazine]
Related: Bloomsday Meets Second Avenue [Tablet Magazine]

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Jeffrey Forman says:

Ireland is an important place in the history of the Jewish people. I was told that many Jews escaped to Ireland in the late ninetenth century and early twentieth century to escape religious persecution in Poland, Russia and other European nations. Ireland offered the Jews much more freedom than they were accustomed to and, economically, the Jewish immigrants returned much to Ireland. I imagine that the Jewish immigrants made an excellent(although small) division between Irish Catholics and Protestants.
Watching part of the St. Patrick’s Day parade I had a yearning for a cholesterol packed hot corned beef on club with a stuffed cabbage appetizer(all kosher, of course). I think I will make some cabbage soup and not enjoy its accompanying flatulence. Happy holiday to all.

FluffyRoss says:

I don’t know how Liam Neeson would react to this characterization. I think he’s pretty much a Jew-hater, he’s made noises about the Palestinians, he’s a devotee of the Vanessa Redgrave rabble, and when he came careening out of a Turkish bar (oxymoron in an Islamic country?), he blathered on about how he wants to be a Muslim. I’m afraid he hadn’t realized he’d have to give up the fruit of the vine, or in his case, of the vat.

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A Very Jewish St. Patrick’s Day

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